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What Google Docs really needs: A “Download all” button

I now have something like 120 documents written and stored on Google Docs. For many of them, there are no other copies anywhere else. On some levels, that’s not something that I worry about. Google, after all, is likely to have far better redundancy and back ups than I will ever have.

But at the back of my mind, something about this leaves me with a nagging element of concern: what if, through fair means or foul, I end up locked out of that Google account?

I’m not sure if that kind of situation has ever actually happened. But for me, if it did, that lock-out would be a disaster. There are pieces of work on there that are, literally, irreplaceable. While losing them might not a big loss to the sum total of human knowledge, to me it would be a very bad day indeed.

Of course, Google Docs offers the ability to download files in a range of popular formats. But what it doesn’t offer is any kind of mass download, which means that, if I wanted to export my documents, I’d have to go though them all and save individually… 120 times.

In the real world, where people don’t have infinite time and patience for dull tasks, that means it’s not going to happen. I might save a few key documents, but the rest… nope, too much hassle.

Google is, of course, relying on this kind of inertia to prevent people from exiting the service, making it harder to take your valuable data and use it elsewhere. Google Docs is one of the few Google services which doesn’t have any third-party access, so that, for example, there’s no simple way of important and exporting directly using a third party programme.

Of course, all this could be mitigated with the provision of a simple mass export command, which saved off everything to your drive in formats of your choice. But my guess is that we’re not going to be seeing that any time soon.

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